The original meaning of ‘Witch-hunting’ is derived from the incidents that infrequently happened from the 14th to 17th century. People accused heretics of being witches and burned them at the stake. Though it gradually disappeared in the later 18th century, the tendency somehow remains and is coming out on the Internet again in many forms these days. < Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >
One of the representative cases in Korea might be that of Tablo, a famous hiphop singer. He was embroiled with a fake diploma scandal raised by Korean netizens, spent 3 years in agony without clearing the suspicion that his degree from Stanford University was a counterfeited one. He suffered from depression while the whole nation was unreasonably fluttered by the scandal. After 3 years of trials his degree was finally confirmed as an authentic one, but people still cannot say his name without remembering the presence of “Tajinyo: A group that demands the truth from Tablo.” When an uncertain public belief is considered truth, people indiscriminately attack the appointed person. Even after it turns out to be not true, the life of ‘the branded’ cannot be the same as before. What makes the matters worse is that it is expanding not only in our everyday life but also online. As Tablo’s case exemplifies, witch-hunting on the Internet has become a serious social problem. We need to understand how our rash judgments can make one’s life irrevocably miserable. Let me introduce a movie with an unexpected turn of events. The Hunt describes a victim’s pain in detail.
A kindergarten teacher Lucas returns to his hometown after his divorce, and lives with the high trust and popularity of local children. He gets a new girlfriend and wins the custody of his son Marcus, dreaming a happy life thereafter. Then one day, his friend Theo’s daughter Klara tells a lie that she was sexually molested by Lucas to the kindergarten director. Though he is falsely accused, Lucas does not respond strongly as he believes people would not take the groundless assertion seriously. However, the scandal becomes bigger and bigger and villagers believed that he actually committed the crime on the basis of the false assumption that children do not lie. Even his close friends turned their back on him and he finally realizes its seriousness. But it was too late.
He was arraigned in the police station and despised by villagers. In a desperate situation, the only person who believes in Lucas is Marcus and his godfather. Then on Christmas he loses his temper in church where all villagers gather to have a service. He intensely pleads his innocence for the first and last time, then he is finally able to prove his innocence. A year later, people treat him as if nothing has happened, but when he goes to a mountain to hunt, someone aims a gun at him. Fortunately, the bullet misses him but he stares with despaired eyes. He realizes that the witch-hunt is not over.
It is said that the cause of today’s witch-hunt is the development of Internet, as it allows people to hide their real identity. However, you can see it very clearly that it is not the only reason the movie shows us. In the Hunt, there is no computer, only the conversations among villagers; they still make Lucas the victim of a witch-hunt. Witch-hunts might represent a side of human nature that is usually hidden within a community, rather than something influenced by the Internet. It may be a gloomy realization about human nature, but at least you should try to correct it if you realize that it isn’t right.
There is a scene in the Hunt that Lucas gazes at his friends who blame him for being a perpetrator of molestation. His eyes are more mournful, expressing his yearning to be recognized innocent by them, rather than being resented by those who wouldn’t believe in him. Audiences may easily condemn the villagers who suspect him as a criminal. However, I would ask you if you were the villagers in the Hunt would you believe that he is innocent despite what all the others believe? Didn’t you ever suspect Tablo’s diploma might be just a fake? You may already be a part of witch-hunting.